A word that is fairly unknown to masses as well as classes of India and people beyond that are not even in question, a delicacy that would put the puffiness of a fine French Soufflé to shame, this is precisely the magic stirred by Malai-Makhan. A fine extraction of milk cream which can be found only with street vendors and bicycle vendors covered mostly in red or yellow cellophane plastic or in red cloth done only in winter months of Northern India.
What is it– It a an outcome of pure cow milk cream hand churned for 5 or 6 hours at a constant speed with small quantities of milk being added to the cream to dilute the paste. The more it is churned the more fat turns to a thick froth (i.e.Malai-makhan) and starts floating on top of milk which can be extracted out and what’s left over is fatless milk. Now to add a peculiar flavour to this most people add some saffron and kewra-jal while whipping and finish it with hints of fine chopped pistachio and almond as garnishing on top. This whole process might seem fairly easy to be mastered but there are only handful people who know the precise trick to separate the froth while most of us would only be mixing cream with milk.
Origin– It can be found in 4 cities only Kanpur, Lucknow, Banaras and Delhi; There is massive confusion around the origin of is delicacy. Majority of people carry an idea that this comes from Banaras but that is an outcome of crafted confusion around Brij-Makhan which is a hung version unlike the churned one here, a small lot even believes it to be from Lucknow but the real origin lies in Generalgunj, Kanpur from where it was carried on to Lucknow and nearby major cities ages ago but carry a different taste and appeal almost everywhere.
Ulterior names– The real names are strictly Malai-makhan or Makhan-malai only which is the name it goes by in Kanpur and Lucknow streets. In Delhi people call it Daulat ki Chat which is not even close to the real product while in Banaras most people know it by name of Brij-makhan. Some people also call it Nimish but it is the very same thing done in Afghanistan with horse milk unlike ours.
If you happen to be in any of these cities during winters, head to the old cluster markets to find this delicacy and indulge in a sweet frothy sin which leaves you asking for more.